Nehemiah 2 & 3– Let us therefore arise and build
…The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build…~ Nehemiah 2:20
Last week, our study focused on key elements of a true and proper process of repentance. We understand that we must engage in a time of weeping and mourning where we are brought down to godly sorrow, and then commit ourselves over to a time of fasting and prayer. This week, it is time to take action. It is time to arise and build while we stand in holy places and not be moved. It is the focus and purpose of Nehemiah’s goal to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Furthermore, last week was a very in depth and lengthy study, having constituted three installments, where it is hoped that a strong foundation has been laid down for us to press forward through the remaining weeks of this devotional study. This week, we will focus on four principle actions that Nehemiah took. Therefore, there will be four installments that focus on the four principle actions that Nehemiah took to begin the work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, actions that we can apply in our lives today.
Purpose and significance of walls: People refer to “walls” as part of their own personal identity. In ancient times, walls helped protect the city from intrusion of an opposing army. During the time of siege, the gates were closed off. Soldiers stationed along the causeways to help defend the city and the citizenry. Walls were built to provide protection. Thus, it is fitting that people refer to having their “walls up” because it signifies that there is something they are willing to protect. Regardless if what is being protected is a negative or positive character trait, the philosophy is to keep up these walls in order to fortify oneself from being vulnerable and exposed to another individual. Yet, as it has happened in the past, walls are destroyed through persistent attacks, where the cinders are weakened, soldiers are being killed off, and the walls being breached by the opposing army. Our own best efforts to keep up those walls will sometimes crumble during the lengthy siege and we are left vulnerable, exposed, and even destroyed.
Thoughts to consider:
- What is the purpose for you to have walls up?
- Have your own walls become weakened over time? If so, what were the trials you have faced that weakened your walls and exposed your vulnerability
- Were these walls up to protect negative aspects or positive aspects of your life and personal identity?
As we think about our own walls, we must understand that sometimes those walls must come down because of certain aspects of our own identity ought to be exposed, dealt with, and then let go in order for us to move forward into a more meaningful and balanced life. This is especially true if our walls were built to protect and harbor sinful desires that we have allowed to become deeply rooted into our life. Those walls must crumble through weakening of the sinful desires and lusts we have previously engaged in. Once they are destroyed, we can set about and rebuild those walls that will help fortify our faith within the confines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is our focus to look at the weakened and crumbled walls of our faith where the opposition has brought out a significant attack of doubt, false beliefs, and particular temptations that have led us into forbidden paths. Since we have allowed our own faith to become weakened, we must rebuild those walls, fortify those walls, and do what we can to secure our testimony so that it can no longer be shaken by the adversary and the opposition. It does not mean that once we fortify our walls and strengthen our gates, that we will not face opposition, it means we are better equipped and well-prepared to withstand the coming siege of our adversary. Pertinent to this is Nehemiah Chapter two and three where four significant actions were taken by Nehemiah in order to engage in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem:
- Taking leave of one’s duties and obligations
- Surveying the damage
- Stand against the criticism and testify
- Commissioning the work and enlisting others
These three actions that Nehemiah took are applicable in our lives today. We all have obligations and duties that we must attend to. However, where there is significant damage within our families, community, and even within our nation, we must remove ourselves from the normal obligations and duties that we have in order to serve and engage in rebuilding those walls that have crumbled. Once we have taken our leave of absence, the next principle action is surveying the extent of the damage. It is not as much as asking why the damage came about; it is more of asking how it has caused the damage that we have seen. More importantly, Nehemiah rose up and surveyed the damage and destruction of the walls of Jerusalem at night with a few trusted men. Those whom we personally know and trust can help us survey the damage sin has caused in our lives. This could be our Bishop (especially if such sins require our confessing and counseling with the Bishop – i.e., sexual transgression and immorality, particular addictions, domestic violence), our Elders Quorum president, home teachers, visiting teachers, Relief society president, family friends, parents, teachers, young men/young women leaders or even counselors if we are in counseling for particular mental health/substance abuse or self-care management.
The third action is the more significant one for we will have initial opposition when it is discovered that we are set about to rebuild and repair that which is damaged. It is the attack, the criticism, the scorn that we receive from others who may not understand, or who may have been active participants in the crumbling and weakening of our walls. A husband who final comes to terms and admits his infidelity to his wife does so in secret with his bishop, then confiding with his wife. He then disengages himself from the affair and breaks off the other participant. The addict who finally admits he/she needs help and counseling and begins to repair the damage done because of their addiction.
The final action (which comprises chapter three of Nehemiah) is the commissioning of the work and enlisting those around to assist in rebuilding the walls. The application that we will focus on here is how we can enlist and commission others around us to help fortify our lives and our faiths. Each individual has unique talents and opportunities to provide and serve. Whether we act in service as visiting teachers, home teachers, leaders, friends, clinicians, or even strangers, the validity of having a strong network of people to support our efforts in restoring those walls is immensely important. Without such help, we will succumb to our own disappointments and frustrations and the work will never be done and we will always be left vulnerable to those who would take every available opportunity to despise and scorn us further into reproach.
Let us therefore arise and rebuild those walls of our faith, those walls of love, harmony, peace, and virtue within our own homes and families. As we begin to repair the damage, let us regain our own vitality of faith and begin to stand in holy places and not be moved as the process of restoration begins to take place in our lives. The road is not going to be easy, as we will navigate through this course of study, however, it will be worth it if we endure to the end rely on our faith and the strength of our Heavenly Father and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Thoughts to consider:
- What obligations and duties do you currently have in your life that may allow a leave of absence? If such obligations are not flexible to allow a leave of absence, what flexible measures are you willing to take to ensure that one can arise and begin to build without interfering with current duties and obligations?
- What areas in your personal life, family life, or in the lives of those around you where there is evidence of a weakness of faith, or crumbled walls that have left individuals exposed and vulnerable?
- Is there any current criticism or scorn from you, from others directed toward you, or what potential criticisms and scorns would come about when one arise and begin to rebuild those walls of faith or rebuild their family home, community et al?
Action to take:
One of the principle actions that Nehemiah took was to stand against initial criticism and scorn about his desire to begin to repair the walls of Jerusalem. Resolve right now, today to lay the foundation to stand on the principle teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and hold to the faith that Heavenly Father will prosper those who will engage in rebuilding their lives as a result of sin or circumstances that has caused their own walls to become weak and crumbled.